Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria Capital Region
Our Impact Why We Exist
At Big Brothers Big Sisters we believe children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential, both as individuals and citizens, and in doing so, they will not only do well, they will also do good. Our mission is to positively affect our community by providing mentoring programs for children and youth.
We support relationships between caring members of the community and vulnerable children by providing one-to-one and group mentoring programs for children and youth, both in the school and in the community. These relationships change the course of a young life and the course of a community’s future by reducing the cycle of poverty, improving emotional and social development and strengthening school and community connectedness.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria has been working since 1977 to ensure that every child who needs a mentor has a mentor. Our program participants are diverse in gender, religion, ethnicity, and social backgrounds. They live in communities across the Capital Regional District including Sooke, Sidney, Salt Spring Island and the Malahat.
Not knowing my father growing up was sometimes difficult. I never had anyone teach me about cars and tools or show me how to throw a baseball. To me, my mentor was that male figure that was missing from my life...As the years went on, our relationship grew. He went from feeling like a friend to feeling like a brother - he was family to me. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program can really make a difference in a child's life. Not only that, but there are so many other great things that happen throughout the program - opportunities to reach out in the community, to reach out into others' life’s, even scholarship opportunities for participants of the program.
I have been a single mom for all of my son's life, he was really struggling behaviorally and needed a good male role model. My son has developed a great relationship with his Big Brother and i see him growing and maturing as a person. Now he is exposed to a maltitude of awesome new experiences. His behavioural issues have disappeared and he is so much more fun to be around.
This isnt something you do for only a year. We developed an incredibly strong bond...The look of pride on his face when he could show me something he accomplished that week in school or his excited chatter while he explained what activity he would like to do were beyond words.
-Sam, Teen Mentor
Our Story What We Do
Each year, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria helps hundreds of children and youth between the ages of 5 and 18 years old. We match children with an assessed, trained and supervised mentor who helps the child to build resiliency, confidence and self-esteem. With each weekly visit, the children gain the problem-solving, decision-making and relationship-building skills needed to connect, engage and succeed at school, at home, and in the community.
We offer a variety of mentoring programs allowing us to reach children with families who can self-refer and reach children with families struggling to cope and who need to be referred by school staff or community professionals. While the reason a family looks to Big Brothers Big Sisters for support can vary, common responses include:
- the loss of a spouse through death or separation,
- the need to have someone spend quality time with their child as the single parent works multiple jobs,
- the grandparent or extended family member feeling overwhelmed when a child has recently come into their care, or
- the child moving into the care of the Ministry for Children and Family Development.
All of the children and youth in our programs need a friend, role-model and champion. Some of the children have learning difficulties or struggle with social issues like bullying. Many live in households where family members are challenged by isolation, poverty, chronic health and mental health and/or addiction issues.
Mentors make a positive impact that can last a lifetime. Their mentorship increases the potential of each indvidual by exploring the tools and experiences necessary for bigger dreams, healthier lifestyles, more meaningful relationships and stronger communities. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria is committed to offering our programs in neighborhoods across Southern Vancouver Island. Whether in a small rural community or large urban municipality, the success of our mentoring programs is rooted in our ability to encourage and support relationships between caring citizens and vulnerable children. We envision a future when we are able to provide a long-term, quality mentoring experience for every child or youth who expresses a desire to have a mentor.
Our Programs How We Do It
In a time when lives are becoming increasingly complicated, we make a difference by keeping it simple. We connect children with people who care and change lives one relationship at a time. Our volunteer mentors are continuously assessed, trained and coached, and relationships are monitored to ensure safety and growth. Families receive extended support through intervention and referral services. We conduct annual satisfaction surveys to help grow and improve our services.
Our Community Mentoring Program matches a child (7-18) with an adult mentor who shares common interests, skills and new experiences. Mentors support children with social development and reinforce healthy boundaries, problem solving and social skills. Children learn the importance of giving back, staying in school and having respect for one's peers, one's family and one's self. Focus Mentoring was developed in response to increased challenges faced by families in our community program. It increases support to families who live with the negative stigma of mental illness, chronic health conditions, addiction, incarceration, and challenges related to culture, including new immigrants and aboriginal families. Mentors and families are supported through education and training opportunities to help maintain a strong and healthy relationship.
Our School-Based Programs reach children from families that might not be well enough to seek the support of a mentor. Elementary and middle schools in districts #61-64 identify their most vulnerable students. The children referred to these programs often have difficulty making friends, are bullied or bully others, are isolated and lonely, and/or are unable to find sustained joy at school. Others have learning, medical or behavioral issues that make it difficult to learn or stay engaged. In-School Mentoring and Teen Mentoring provide early intervention and support the healthy development of children through weekly visits with a mentor at the school. Recognizing that some children learn best through a peer support model, we also offer group mentoring opportunities. Go Girls helps girls (10-14) learn more about self-esteem, healthy boundaries, communication and healthy living. Invest In Me uses a mentoring themed curriculum to help students identify a role model. The students learn about financial literacy and philanthropy and develop/launch a business to generate funds which can be invested in mentoring programs.
What You Can Do
Every time we match a child with a mentor we hope to spark a relationship which endures a lifetime. This level of caring and compassion is priceless.
Every $1 invested in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring for the most economically disadvantaged populations returns a $23 to society (Boston Consulting Group Social Return on Investment of Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Programs in Canada, 2013). Our volunteer mentors are already investing their time, compassion and resources into building relationships they believe will have a lasting impact and strengthen families in our community.
While 450 children actively participated in Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs in 2015-2016, there are over 135 children still waiting for a mentor. We know time is critical in the lives of these vulnerable children and the wait for support can have a serious impact compromising the health, safety and potential of our youngest citizens.
We care about the long-term future of the most vulnerable children in this community and we know that the Victoria Foundation invests in programs that have a lasting and profound impact. Please consider donating to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Victoria.